Posts tagged breakfast

Blueberry maple scones

I hadn’t wanted to go to too much trouble. What good is asking for trouble when all you really want to do is sleep?

But somehow I wound up here, with buttery dough crammed beneath my fingernails and pressed into my palms, a small stain of blueberry at the corner of my lip, not to mention the downright stickiness of maple camouflaged on the edge of my countertop and that insidious flurry of flour in places where flour shouldn’t go.

It’s sort of a blur, the kind of haze that’s more typical of a Saturday night than a bright Sunday morning.

I’d woken at 6 a.m. — far too early for a Sunday. I’d planned on a ritual sleeping in, because Sunday is pretty much the only morning I’m not up at 5. And as Saturday had involved the usual Saturday things — 60 miles of riding my bike + 3 loads of laundry + 1 birthday party — I was ready to sleep. And sleep.

Or not.

If I was up anyway, I figured I might as well do the domestic Sunday thing and prepare a solid Sunday breakfast. Something slightly more adventurous than the usual weekday oatmeal. Pancakes crossed my mind. And French toast. But I was tired, and, like I said, hardly in the mood for a mess.

I browsed a few cookbooks until my fingers fell upon a recipe for blueberry-maple scones. There I was in the dense quiet of the morning, no hustle of garbage trucks or landscaping crews, no rush of cars, just a couple of rowdy birds and the crackle of my sack of flour.

I weighed the flour and measured the copious baking powder and flaxmeal, then diced a cube of chilled butter. I tried mixing it all with the pastry blender, because even though the recipe said to use my hands, my heart wasn’t in it. And if your heart’s not in it, you definitely don’t want to get your hands dirty.

But the pastry blender wasn’t up to the task of achieving the necessary crumbly state, so I dug in with bare hands after all. I gave myself over to it, sifting with my fingers, the cold butter giving way under gentle pressure from my fingertips.

These things we do in our kitchens are hypnotic and enchanting, rightfully and necessarily. They work magic in more ways than the simple transformation of separate ingredients into cohesive dish.

Maybe I didn’t need sleep, after all. Maybe all I really needed was to make scones.

Blueberry Maple Scones (adapted from Breakfast, Lunch, Tea)

3 1/2 C white whole-wheat flour

1 handful cornmeal

2 heaping tbsp baking powder

1 heaping tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp salt

zest of 1 lemon or 1 orange

1/2 C unsalted butter, chilled and cut into tiny dice

1 C blueberries, fresh or frozen

2 eggs

3 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar

1 1/4 C low-fat or whole milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with butter or cooking spray.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the butter and rub it in with your fingers until the mixture resembles fresh breadcrumbs. Mix in the zest and blueberries.

In a separate bowl, beat one of the eggs, then add the milk and the maple syrup. Make a well in the center of your flour mixture, then pour in the liquid and use a fork to work in the dry ingredients. Use your hands to complete the mixing, just until the the dry ingredients are incorporated — don’t overwork the dough. If it’s too dry, add more milk. Add more flour if the dough is too wet. It shouldn’t be sticky.

Prepare a lightly floured surface, then pat or roll the dough until it’s about 1 1/4 inches thick. Cut the dough into rounds using a 2-inch cutter or an inverted glass, then place the dough rounds onto the baking sheet so that they almost touch. Beat the remaining egg and use a pastry brush to glaze the tops of the scones.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden.



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From the hearty

Ok, so I’m not a fluffy pancake person, but truth be told, I’m not a fluffy anything person.  I’m hardly known for my cavalier use of throw pillows — much as I appreciate their comfort (that fluff) and pop of color, liberal scattering would only crowd my aesthetic. I’ll only hug you if there’s a really good reason for it. And we have a lone fish — no fluffy dogs or kittens to speak of, except for a particular cat from next door who has taken to exploring our back yard (and our roof).


And when it comes to food, I’ll take rich over airy any day. Gelato instead of soft-serve. Truffles rather than meringue. I like my cakes good and dense, my brownies rich. You get the idea.

The same goes for my breakfast.

So consider yourself fully warned, prepped, apprised — The pancakes that follow are of the hearty variety. I created them for the Energy Food Challenge over at Hopie’s Kitchen. Her mom is taking part in a 109-mile bike ride, and because she’s doing it somewhat close to where I live, I almost feel personally responsible that she get the nutrients and calories she needs for the journey.


I happen to keep company with bikers and runners, and the energy foods they swear by are bananas and peanut butter toast. As I’m personally afflicted with a compulsion to hike at 5:30 a.m. three days a week and engage in kickbox and cycle classes at the gym, I’m also acquainted with the importance of food as fuel.

Hence, these power pancakes, full of whole grains (for fiber), peanut butter (for protein) and even bananas (for sweetness and staying power). And while they won’t score high on the fluff factor, they are nevertheless satisfying without being heavy. In fact, these babies have supplanted my daily oatmeal and fueled my workouts for three days running. Enjoy the ride, Hopie’s mom!

Power Pancakes with Peanut Butter & Bananas

I grew up spreading peanut butter on pancakes. These pancakes make good travelers because I’ve put the the peanut butter in the batter. And the bananas and brown sugar mean they don’t need much in the way of sweet embellishment, so they’re a great anytime snack grab.

2 C milk

1/2 C plain yogurt

1/2 C quick-cooking oats

1/2 C hot cereal grains (such as Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain High Fiber Hot Cereal)

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 C natural peanut butter, well-stirred

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 1/4 C white whole-wheat flour

4 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 large bananas

Combine milk, yogurt, oats, cereal and vanilla in a small bowl with a whisk. Let stand 10 minutes. Whisk in peanut butter and eggs. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add oat and peanut butter mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Mixture will be thick.

Cut bananas into quarter-inch-thick horizontal slices. Pour 1/3 cup batter onto skillet heated to medium-high (don’t forget butter or cooking spray, as necessary). Press banana slices into uncooked tops of pancakes. When tops are starting to puff up and tiny bubbles begin to form, flip pancakes, cooking opposite side until golden. Repeat with remaining batter and bananas.

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Feeling flip

[Recipe: Buttermilk Syrup]

It’s been a while — too long, in fact. But I have the best of excuses: I was on vacation, glorious vacation, for fall break (fall, glorious fall!). And my mom was in town, and we were busy with visiting and vacation, so there’s been little time or reason to haul out the laptop.

Besides, my kitchen hasn’t seen much action, what with me not being in it.

Maybe it was that lack of activity that prompted Sunday morning’s aebelskiver madness. Or maybe it was a nesting desire that crept in once I arrived home and unpacked. Or I could blame that recurring case of post-travel blues that tends to crash my coming-home party, the welcoming committee of laundry piles and suitcases parked mid-hallway that I inevitably trip over on my descent to reality.

Come back, vacation. I’m so not over you yet.

Whatever the reason, I was feeling ambitious enough to pull out the aebelskiver pan my mom got me for my birthday. This is the second time so far we’ve endeavored to make the filled Danish pancakes, and the verdict is that they’re dang good, if a little tricky to flip in the pan without smushing them.

So it’s true: I am a contrite, head-in-hands aebelskiver smusher. Poor things. They begin their rise to golden puffery just fine, until I get my flipping skewers in there and make a floppy, deflated mess of the whole thing. I try, ever so gently, to roll them over in their half-cooked state, but I’ve yet to perfect the flip.  Little bits of batter end up everywhere they shouldn’t be (coincidentally, a Williams-Sonoma e-mail featuring a how-to aebelskiver video just turned up in my inbox – perhaps I should watch and learn).

A friend with Danish heritage introduced me to the pancakes. It’s a tradition in her family for each bride to receive a traditional cast-iron pan for her wedding, and now they prepare giant piles of them every Christmas for guests. Hers turn out perfectly: little golden balls.

Mine were not blessed golden balls, but some were almost round. I made this buttermilk syrup to go with them — a recipe I got from my friend Tiff that she got from a friend of a friend. I can’t really account for its origins, but I can attest to its deliciousness.

Be warned: this is rich, sweet stuff. Wonderful atop lemon-mascarpone filled aebelskivers, and probably just as good on pancakes, waffles, the gamut of griddle-baked goodies. But I’m saving the leftovers (they keep for three weeks) to drizzle over pumpkin bundt cake.

Buttermilk Syrup

1 stick (8 tbsp) unsalted butter

3/4 C granulated sugar

1/2 C buttermilk (lowfat is ok)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

Place all ingredients in saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add baking soda and vanilla, whisking continuously. Serve warm. Keeps three weeks refrigerated.

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Gratuitous sharing

[Recipe: Egg Cupcakes]

I have to say I deplore the whole mom sharing thing. You know what I’m talking about, that just because I popped a kid out and you did too, well, my don’t we have a lot in common? And then I become privy to your little Johnny’s sleep and poop schedule, and naturally I give you the low-down on what my little Janey got up to last night, and I guarantee I’ll one-up you.

We’re pretending to vent, but in reality, we’re just seeing who the better mom is. We know it’s our own selves, but just checking…

That said, there’s one area where I don’t mind the give-and-take of mommy tales. I love to talk about food, about what new organic, all-natural snack you’re making these days that your kids love to come home to. About where you like to shop for produce and what you’re doing differently with the salmon, so that maybe I can copy you if it sounds good.

It’s that spirit of mommy sharing –- the helpful kind, where we confidentially discuss things that really will make us better parents –- that brings me here today. School’s started, and I am now the proud maternal figure of one clarinet-wielding fifth grader and a tiny kindergartner whose backpack is so big that, from behind, all you see are little limbs and the tippy top of a brown head. These little people need to be fed –- and well –- before they hike up the sidewalk to school.

Now, do you really care what my girls eat for breakfast? On the off chance that you do, that you also like to benefit from knowing what other parents feed their children, take a gander at these breakfast egg cupcakes. A couple or three mouthfuls apiece, they’re a cinch, they can be made ahead and – I feel the halo coming on – they’re healthy.

Egg Cupcakes

I discovered a version of this recipe while watching one of those cooking segments on the local news a few years ago. Prepare these in muffin tins or silicone muffin cups. Sometimes we sprinkle the tops with grated cheese or chopped herbs before baking or toss in small pieces of sliced ham or smoked salmon. Makes 8 cupcakes.

4 slices of whole grain bread, torn into strips

6 large eggs, slightly beaten

Optional: small slices of ham, bacon or smoked salmon, about ½ inch in width; grated or crumbled cheese; chopped herbs

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Evenly divide bread strips among muffin cups. If adding ham or other ingredients, place on top of bread strips. Top with scant 1/3 C eggs, filling cups ¾ full. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

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